The Concept of Nontraditional Student

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Abstract

Nontraditional student is understood as one of the older students enrolled in formal or informal studies. In the literature, there is no detailed generalisation of nontraditional student. This article aims to reveal the concept of this particular group of students. Analysing the definition of nontraditional students, researchers identify the main criteria that allow to provide a more comprehensive concept of the nontraditional student. The main one is the age of these atypical students coming to study at the university, their selected form of studies, adult social roles status characteristics, such as family, parenting and financial independence as well as the nature of work. The described features of the nontraditional student demonstrate how the unconventional nontraditional student is different from the traditional one, which features are characteristic for them and how they reflect the nontraditional student’s maturity and experience in comparison with younger, traditional students. Key features - independence, internal motivation, experience, responsibility, determination. They allow nontraditional students to pursue their life goals, learn and move towards their set goals. University student identity is determined on the basis of the three positions: on the age suitability by social norms, the learning outcomes incorporated with age, on the creation of student’s ideal image. There are four students’ biographical profiles distinguished: wandering type, seeking a degree, intergrative and emancipatory type. They allow to see the biographical origin of nontraditional students, their social status as well as educational features. Biographical profiles presented allow to comprise the nontraditional student’s portrait of different countries. Traditional and nontraditional students’ learning differences are revealed by analysing their need for knowledge, independence, experience, skill to learn, orientation and motivation aspects. To sum up, the analysis of the scientific literature can formulate the concept of the nontraditional student. Nontraditional student refers to the category of 20-65 years of age who enrolls into higher education studies in a nontraditional way, is financially independent, with several social roles of life, studying full-time or part-time, and working full-time or part-time, or not working at all.

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